Birds of a feather flock together: the Nigerian cyber fraudsters (Yahoo Boys) and hip hop artists

Suleman Lazarus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study sets out to examine the ways Nigerian cyber-fraudsters (Yahoo-Boys) are represented in hip-hop music. The empirical basis of this article is lyrics from 18 hip-hop artists, which were subjected to a directed approach to qualitative content analysis and coded based on the moral disengagement mechanisms proposed by Bandura (1999). While results revealed that the ethics of Yahoo-Boys, as expressed by musicians, embody a range of moral disengagement mechanisms, theyalso shed light on the motives for the Nigerian cybercriminals' actions. Further analysis revealed additional findings: “glamorization/de-glamorizationof cyber-fraud” and “sex-roles-and-cultures”. Having operated within the constraint of what is currently available (a smallsample size), this article has drawn attention to the notion that Yahoo-Boys and some musicians may be “birds of a feather.” Secondly, it has exposed a “hunter-and-antelope-relationship” between Yahoo-Boys and their victims. Thirdly, it has also highlighted that some ethos of law-abiding citizens is central to Yahoo-Boys’ moral enterprise. Yahoo-Boys, therefore, represent reflections of society. Arguably, given that Yahoo-Boys and singers are connected, and the oratory messages of singers may attract more followers than questioners, this study illuminates the cultural dimensions of cyber-fraud that emanate from Nigeria. In particular, insights from this study suggest that cyber-fraud researchers might look beyond traditional data sources (e.g., cyber-fraud statistics) for the empirical traces of “culture in action” that render fraudulently practices acceptable career paths for some Nigerian youths.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-80
Number of pages18
JournalCriminology, Criminal Justice, Law & Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • neutralization techniques
  • moral disengagement mechanisms
  • cyber criminology
  • cyberpsychology
  • Nigerian Cybercriminals (Yahoo Boys)
  • glamorization of cybercrime
  • Victims of romance scam


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